Now that it has been a few hours since the game that nearly put a few of us here at CelticsHub.com in the hospital with ulcer-related symptoms, the dust has settled and it’s time to evaluate what happened yesterday. It’s hard enough to win a double overtime game, but to win on the road? In a playoff game?
Zach wrote about some poignant moments in yesterday’s game. However, he left out two monumental moments from a monumental game.
1. Brad Miller’s “ejection.” In the beginning of the fourth quarter Glen Davis fouled Brad Miller hard, which issued a response from the always-volatile Miller that involved his hands striking Davis’ face. The refs originally threw Miller out of the game, but then reviewed the play and just issued him a technical foul. Right call by the refs? On the playground: yes. In the NBA: no way. After watching the replay, a few times, it was pretty clear that it was a double-flop reaction. Miller got fouled hard and responded by flailing his hands towards Davis’ face, striking the side of his face. The replay showed to the true sissy-ness of the situation and their respective teammates should have told them “to suck it up and play.” So no one was ejected, no harm, no foul- except Miller struck Davis in the face after the whistle. No matter how lame the fight was, or the reactions that followed, whenever a player strikes another player in the face after a whistle, they have to be ejected.
What made this moment worse, was the momentum shift after the reversal of the ejection. Had this game been in Boston, the Garden crowd would be rallying around the Celtics and shouting at Miller every time he came within smelling distance of the ball. Instead, this game was in Chicago, and the Bulls were the midst of a run after being held to 65 points for the last three minutes of the third quarter. Over that span, the Celtics were on a 12-0 run and seemed ready to make this game out of reach. After Miller stayed in the game, he made his two free throws and tied the game at 74. After that, neither team led by more than a possession until overtime.
2. Noah’s after-the-whistle block on Rondo. It’s almost a guarantee that when the whistle blows on a time out or a foul away from the ball, the player with the ball will take a free shot at the basket while the refs sort out the foul or the players retreat to their benches. It’s also a well known fact that Boston, due to Kevin Garnett’s philosophy and intensity, doesn’t let its opponents shoot or at least see that ball go through the basket. In the first quarter of today’s game, Doc called a timeout when Rondo had the ball in his hands. Like clockwork, Rondo attempted to get that free shot, when, out of nowhere, Joakim Noah came over and blocked the shoot back into his face.
It seemed symbolic for two reasons:
1) It showed the the Bulls were not going to go quietly or be pushed around, Nope. No repeats of game three.
2) It seemed like the Bulls were taking a play out of the Celtics philosophy book.
3. Marbury’s last second drive at the end of the first quarter. Throughout his career, Marbury has been the guy to take the shot when the clock winds down. With the Celtics, Marbury has done everything that is asked of him and he has not played out of his role at all. At first, I thought this may be a sign that the Marbury everyone expected to join the Celtics was coming out and the Marbury that was playing team basketball and lock-down defense was gone. Especially when Rondo could be seen calling for the ball.
After thinking about this during the break between quarters, I reasoned that Marbury’s good play of late has probably allowed Doc to encourage him to be more aggressive. It wasn’t as if the game was on the line and he passed up an open look for someone else in order to get his. It was just the break between quarters, and Marbury made an aggressive move to the basket. A move that is usually rewarded with a made basket or a trip to the free throw line. Unfortunately, it ended up with Tyrus Thomas blocking the lay up attempt into next Tuesday.
In the post game news conference, Pierce said the Celtics won’t cry over “spilled milk.” Although they’ll be plenty of tears for Celtics’ fans if they have to go back to Chicago facing elimination. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.